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Rougemont man to get UNC degree 75 years after enrolling

Posted May 6, 2009

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— More than 70 years after a girl and a job got in the way of Dillard Griffin's degree, the Durham County man will take part in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's commencement this weekend.

Griffin, 92, enrolled at UNC in 1934 and was on track to graduate four years later. Fate then intervened and led him in another direction.

Dillard Griffin, old UNC grad 92-year-old to graduate from UNC

"In my senior year, I met a beautiful girl that stole my heart," he said. "We went dancing, and that was all she wrote."

Spending time in Burlington courting the girl left him little time to finish a term paper in his final class, he said.

"I just never got around to doing it," he said.

Griffin wound up marrying the girl – he and his wife were together for 47 years – and he decided to take a job in his father's Durham shoe store instead of finishing his degree.

"I had other things going on that seemed more important at the time," he said.

Griffin never told his children that he hadn't graduated, even as he put them through college. When his daughter learned his secret last year, she enrolled him in a correspondence course.

Because he's legally blind, he had his coursework projected onto a screen to make it large enough for him to read. He said he got three A's and two B's on his assignments.

When he picks up his business degree on Sunday, he plans to wear a T-shirt under his cap and gown declaring him 1938 class president of the UNC Procrastinators' Club.

"I think education is very important," he said. "Finally, it feels like an accomplishment, and now I can tell people I'm a graduate of the University of North Carolina."

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  • Chatham Adam May 7, 4:25 p.m.

    Congratulations, Mr. Griffin! Congratulations to his daughter, also, who learned of this interesting situation and helped him address it.

  • nufsaid May 7, 1:41 p.m.

    I applaud his determination. He was probably smart by not having to admit he was a UNC grad until he is at the age where he doesn't have to care what others think of him.

  • Mrs Fabulous 1 May 7, 1:01 p.m.

    Its never too late!!! I'm so very happy for him! Happy Graduation!

  • Timbo May 7, 12:05 p.m.

    Geez, 92. I wonder if he rushed any frats?

  • merrywidow May 7, 10:45 a.m.

    My congratulations to Mr. Griffin! Sometimes I feel like it'll take me just as long to get my batchelors also.......

  • sflirtingwith40 May 7, 10:08 a.m.

    Congratulations Mr. Griffin!!

  • sssh.. whisper May 7, 9:51 a.m.

    Congratulations!

  • ambitiousbludevl May 7, 9:34 a.m.

    Now all kinds of doors will open for him. :-)

  • CodeNameJade May 7, 8:44 a.m.

    It just goes to show it's never too late to accomplish something important to you. I love his sense of humor - "president of the procrastinators club" - lol.

  • October lover May 7, 8:29 a.m.

    How inspirational!

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